A Finish Comparison | Painted Cabinets or Stained?

The type of finish you used for your kitchen cabinets didn’t used to even be a question. It was paint. Always paint. Stained cabinets were dated and and normally either too yellow or too red and painted cabinets allowed you any color option your heart desired! Most importantly, paint allowed you a bright white kitchen…something everyone loved. But as always, everything comes back around and this is the case for staining. With the popularity of the SoCal look, a light, waxed white oak cabinet has become super popular and with it, the reemergence of the stained cabinet. There are so many more stain options available now so the color options are expanded…even with stain. And you can still keep the natural wood look instead of completely hiding any sort of graining like you would with paint. That being said, there are still pros and cons to both options. So aside from the style you’re wanting to achieve, consider these items before making your cabinet finish choice.

As we mentioned before, paint will completely cover the wood grain on any sort of cabinet. This can be an attractive option for those who prefer a cleaner look and wants something very tailored. More modern kitchens would definitely be the place for a painted cabinet…but also consider the rest of your home. What’s the style you’re trying to achieve and would a wood grain work well with that?

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On the other hand, if you want to show off the character of your cabinets and love the fact that they are real wood, you may not want to cover them up with paint but rather highlight the natural beauty with a well suited stain.

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It’s important to consider what your cabinets are made of as well. Obviously a cabinet that is not real wood cannot be stained. The stain is simply pointless since there’s no natural wood material to enhance and no graining to show. If your home has cabinet doors that are a material other than wood, paint is really your only choice.

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Don’t be discouraged though. The nice thing about paint is that the color options are endless! You can literally paint your cabinets any color you want! Most stains are some version of black, brown, grey, or white. There is a variety of tones and hues within those neutral families however, there’s no getting a true blue or green cabinet which some people want.

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Practicality is a big factor when it comes to kitchen cabinet finishes since the kitchen is a high traffic area. Stained cabinets, because they have more movement in the graining, actually hide more imperfections. Painted cabinets, though, typically show any sort of nick or ding. The paint color is a smooth coat so any break in that coating will be visible. For this same reason, painted cabinets are harder to touch up whereas stained cabinets are easier to fix.

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Depending on where you purchase your cabinetry, it can cost more when it comes painted. Most common stain finishes are less than a painted finish, however, the newer stains don’t always fit into the “inexpensive category”.

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Finally, consider what is required when you want to change your cabinet color down the road. A painted finish can usually just be primed and painted over whereas a stained finish has to be stripped and re-stained which requires a lot more work.

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It’s a lot to consider! The nice thing is that you can get a lot of look with either option, you just have to make sure the practical side works well for your lifestyle!

Pro Tips | Planning for a Renovation

We’ve been doing more and more renovations recently. Some are small, single bathroom updates, while others are large. Renovations are hard. Period. They’re hard on everyone involved because they are never convenient, never cheap, and never without issues. They are usually so exciting at the end, though! A brand new room in your house…and most likely a room you’ve disliked or wanted to change for a while, is now brand new! Who wouldn’t be happy?! But there are ways to help prepare yourself for the process of enduring a renovation that we want to share. Whether you hire people to do the work or do it yourself, you will always need to be involved in a big way, so here’s what you need to know!

IF you choose to hire someone to help with the work, be sure to do your research! And remember, price shouldn’t be the first concern. We are strong believers in the “you get what you pay for” mentality and people should be compensated fairly for their time…or else, they’ll try to cut corners (to save money on the back end). So get all the info on the people you are hiring—examples of previous work, a clear and mutual understanding of timeline, a detailed scope of work and even a rating on how well you feel that they communicate. Don’t get us wrong, there is a certain level of trust you need to have in your contractor, however, there is also a certain level of communication you should have with them. Be sure you feel comfortable with how they communicate because that one element will be key to a successful renovation!

Have the money talk very early on. Discuss your budget with your contractor, designer, or project manager so that they know where things need to be. If they express concern about how much you are wanting to spend, listen to their concerns. A tight budget can make for more issues and it may be worth it in the end to either adjust your scope of work or wait until you have enough money to fairly cover the costs involved. Do research in advance as well so that you have a good idea of what you think it should be. You don’t want to get scammed by someone over estimating costs but you do need to trust their professional opinion if the conversation goes that direction. We always advise clients to have a 20% cushion for any sort of construction. There WILL be unexpected items that pop up that WILL cost money. Save yourself the headache and have the money available.

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Get out! If you are doing a major renovation, move out! For the sake of your mental health, your marriage, and your kids’ sanity, remove yourself from the stress of living in a construction zone because it’s HARD. It’s loud and dirty and distracting and puts everyone in a bad mood. It also adds a whole new level of stress to the entire process that could be avoided. If you’re just doing a small one bedroom remodel and can live in another part of the house during the construction process, that’s a little easier. But if you’re doing any major updates to your home, be sure NOT to be there.

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We understand things can change, but it is always best to have as many of the major decisions made BEFORE construction begins. Issues may arise that require you to change your selection, but the least amount of decisions you need to make under pressure and stress, the better. Select colors and tile and make layout decisions when you have a clear brain. Stressed brain doesn’t always make the best choices.

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Finally, understand that your involvement is required, not matter what. A renovation is almost never a one man job. Multiple people are involved and even if there’s a project manager who is supposed to be overseeing everything for you, your involvement matters too. You don’t want to turn into a micromanager but you don’t want to be in good communication with the people involved so that there’s no guessing on anyone’s part. For this reason, some of your budget decisions should also involve time….not just money. Consider your daily schedule and plan for the time you’ll need to take out of your day to be involved in this project. It will require it.

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Ultimately, look forward to the finished product. Keep the end in sight so you don’t forget what you’re working towards. If you have nothing to be excited about, you’ll quickly become negative which will only delay the process. Positivity and encouragement always makes for a smoother work place.

Design Tips | Tabletop Styling

It’s summer and things aren’t in their normal flow since the kids are out of school and families are traveling, so we’re just doing a fun little styling post for today. Something simple; a quick, easy summer read that may spark some ideas for fluffing when you get home.

There are many layers to interior design but the most fun and most sought after part is styling. Accessorizing and styling is the finishing touch of every room and can really make a room come to life. But even though a lot of well-designed spaces look effortless, there is a certain method to styling. This article breaks it down well so we thought we’d share some tips for styling tabletop spaces or small vignettes.

Just like in a large space, a small space needs a focal point. This could be the largest or brightest item, but essentially, it’s the item that you want the focus on. There has to be a star…not everything can be the star, so you have to decide what you’re trying to highlight.

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Be sure to select items that vary in size and scale. These differences create a balance and flow that makes it appealing to look at and adds to the overall aesthetic. Everything at one height creates a hard line which eliminates flow and too many small items make it hard to know what to look at. Variety equals balance.

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Consider your background or backdrop when selecting pieces. You want a background that adds to the overall look but be careful when pairing items. A very busy background calls for simpler, more streamlined accessories while a simple backdrop can handle something in front of it that is dramatic and makes a statement. Too much movement, pattern, or color creates the same problem that too many small items does — it doesn’t give the eye something to focus on.

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Too much of a good thing is bad thing. So make sure you select items that contrast each other in color (light and dark) but are similar in style and feel. The common thread of style and/or texture will tie the entire grouping together.

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Always add something natural like a pop of greenery. Even if the greenery is fake, it still provides a little warmth and coziness to the vignette. And fake flowers can look pretty real without the maintenance, so don’t write them off until you try them!

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Finally, always consider your surface. The piece of furniture that the items are being placed on is part of the whole look as well. Be sure it’s color, size, material, and texture are taken into consideration when accessorizing it. A bunch of great accessories on the wrong piece of furniture can look misplaced or out of whack. Don’t overlook what’s in plain sight.

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Construction Tips | Kitchen Remodel

Nobody likes a remodel. The end result is exciting but the process to get there is usually full of surprises that take up time and cost money. The end can never come fast enough. The thing about remodels is that the places people often choose to remodel are normally kitchens and bathrooms — the two most used rooms in a house. So when you remodel, you’re basically shutting down a space that you need and use frequently. It’s not easy.

There are things that you can do to prepare for a remodel. It doesn’t necessarily make the whole process go smoothly, but preparing can help ease the blow of the inconveniences that come with major construction happening in your home. Since kitchens are normally at the top of the list for updates, today we’re going to focus on how to prepare for that particular type of remodel.

The first most basic thing to do is meal prep. This seems strange since you’ll be loosing access to your kitchen, but there are actually a lot of simple meals that you can prepare without any of the major appliances. In order to get by without eating out for every. single. meal. which gets old FAST, plan ahead by preparing for quick meals that can be made with your smaller appliances.

Don’t forget about your grill! So many food items can be cooked on a grill and, let’s be honest, grilled food tastes amazing. A kitchen remodel is a great time to put that outdoor cooking to good use. You can have a hot meal and enjoy dinner on the porch so you don’t even have to see the remodel mess!

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Don’t forget to stock up on your dry goods. Quick, easy breakfast, snack and even lunch items that don’t need to be stored in a refrigerator or cooked in an oven.

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Make sure you’re fully stocked on disposable items — plates, cups, utensils. You may not be able to wash dishes (or just may not feel like washing dishes) at multiple times during the remodel so disposable paper goods will make clean up quick and painless.

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The important thing is to keep the end goal in sight! If you have a rendering or drawing of what your new kitchen will look like once all of the work is complete, keep it close by! You will want a reminder of what you’re suffering for at multiple points in the process. But if all else fails, get out of town! If you’re comfortable enough to leave the construction in someone else’s hands and don’t need to be there to manage the project, give yourself a break from looking at it and take a mini vacation. Remodels are stressful so you’ll need a getaway for sure!

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Design Tips | Pulling a Family Room Together

Aside from the kitchen, the Family Room is one of the most important rooms in the house. It’s where your family gathers for all sorts of events and occasions and is most likely an area that you enjoy being in. That’s why we think it’s important for the family room to be a space that is comfortable but also durable while also just being pretty! If you have to be in it a lot and are looking at the things in the space, make them enjoyable to be surrounded by! As with every space, there are layers that should go into a family room. We’ve broken them out below to give you some food for thought the next time you decide to redecorate.

Add textured fabrics. This little tidbit is pretty much a standard piece of advice that we give for any room…except maybe the bathroom. But texture in general is huge for us! Texture is what adds depth and interest to any space. A family room in particular will have fabric on multiple applications — drapery, seating, pillows, blankets, so you have lots of ways to add texture in. The nice thing about texture in a family room is that it often does well hiding “use”. Not all, but many textured fabrics have shadows that are created by the high-low effect of the texture and these shadows help disguise dirt! So plus, plus! Visually interesting AND practical!

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Mix neutrals. If you’re like us and you gravitate towards neutrals (which isn’t uncommon in a “common area”), then this tip will hopefully help you boost your use of them. The colors that we consider neutral range from the blacks, whites, ivories, and charcoals to tans, beiges and browns, but also include denimy blues and navy. So this is actually a good thing in a family room because, if you want to use all neutrals but you know whites, tans, and beiges are not going to be practical for your family, you’re in luck. Mixing in some brown, grey, and even a darker blue will all work together! This mix of color with allow you ways to hide dirt and spills (if used wisely) while also giving your room some visual depth by bringing in a variety of darks and lights.

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Include moveable pieces. This tips is purely for functionality. We all know that a family room is a space where there could be 3 people hanging out or 10. Family move nights happen there but so do birthday parties and game nights. So, in order to accommodate varying amounts of people, include smaller pieces of furniture that are easily moved. This could be small accent tables for drinks or even ottomans for additional seating. You know how your family uses your space best so you may need more of less of these, but we’re pretty sure that including a couple of these elements will come in handy regardless of who you are!

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Patterned Rugs hide a lot! One big impact piece that will definitely get a lot of wear in a family room is the area rug. From spills to foot traffic to pets, a family room rug will take a beating. You can approach selection of this piece from different angles — some want to spend the money on it so it will hold up while others feel that a less expensive rug is best since it will likely get replaced often. Either approach is fine, however when it comes to style, we recommend something with pattern. Pattern doesn’t have to mean something crazy and in your face but it does usually mean a variation in color that will hide the use. Larger scale patterns are often better but that’s not to say that some smaller scale patterned rugs couldn’t work too.

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Consider fabric type for practicality. As we’ve already discussed, family rooms are high traffic areas as well as multi-purpose spaces, it’s important to consider the best type of fabrics for use in a space like this. While the color and pattern and texture all matter, the material makeup is important too! Linens and silks are beautiful but not practical. Leather is great for repelling spills but can be scuffed and torn. Oftentimes a blend of natural material and synthetic fibers (like polyester) work well for durability. Wool is easy to clean and cotton is washable. Also consider selecting fabrics coated with crypton —the liquid will literally bead up and roll off — it’s where a lot of fabrics are going.

Overall, the family room is an important space. It has a lot of boxes that need to be checked off to make it right but it is possible! Fabric options are endless and there’s no reason you should have to sacrifice comfort, durability, or style in a space like this!